The modern world is an incredibly fast-moving place where new technology is adopted almost immediately and outdated techniques fall by the wayside to make room for the constant flow of progress. Relatively new to the world of business, no one can deny that eCommerce has taken the world by storm. While brick and mortar businesses are still going strong, the advent of online retail has revolutionized shopping as we know it. Once, a person who needed to shop at several different stores would have had to waste a Saturday driving from place to place. Now, all you need is ten minutes on the internet comparing prices. Eventually, everyone learns what their favorite eCommerce stores are and the best ones find themselves with tens of thousands of customers who make purchases on a regular basis.
Shopping as a Service
When someone chooses a specific eCommerce site to be their go-to shopping venue, they are also choosing to trust that site to be available when needed. Customers learn to rely on the selection your store carries. They grow accustomed to the checkout process and trust the shipping policies to stay the same and arrive on time. In other words, an eCommerce site is more than just an online storefront, it becomes a service, especially for people who make orders at least once a week.
For your most loyal customers, your eCommerce website becomes a part of their lifestyle. Your business doesn't just benefit from these customers, it exists because of them. Your whole reason for building the business in the first place was to serve customers who need what you have to offer and could benefit from the ability to mail order what they need on a regular basis.
The Trouble with Downtime
When you're running an online store, downtime is always the enemy. When your site is down, customers are cut off. People searching for your website or products will find the right links, but seeing the broken page will make them think that you can't handle your IT or aren't available and they'll go find one of your competitors to buy from instead. Even your active customers who were shopping at the moment the site dropped will find themselves booted from the system and facing that awful broken page with at least a small feeling of betrayal and frustration. They, too, will either have to abandon their current task or go find someone else to buy from. This means that any amount of downtime, even for just a few seconds, can result in a loss of new customers, damage to existing customer relations, and a significant loss in revenue from sales that could have been completed during that time. It's worse than closing a brick and mortar store without warning because at least with a physical storefront, customers usually have time to finish their purchases before the store closes.
The Obvious Solution
While your company has a lot of different priorities ranging from maintaining inventory to IT security, preventing downtime should be near the top of the list. After all, what good is your inventory or security if there's no business to protect? Unfortunately, downtime can be caused by so many different potential factors that any single prevention solution usually isn't enough to fully avoid the risk of the site becoming at least temporarily unavailable. That's where monitoring comes in. When you're keeping a close eye on the state and performance of your website, it becomes possible to solve problems either before they occur or immediately afterward depending on how much warning is provided.
Availability Monitoring for eCommerce
There are many kinds of monitoring you can use with your website, computer, or company network ranging from comprehensive network monitoring to single device temperature tracking. These all have their own incredibly useful applications but for your eCommerce site, the most important thing you can monitor is your availability. This is known as Availability monitoring and is one of the most common forms of monitoring used today. Availability monitoring is done by automatically sending a ping to the website on a regular basis. If the ping reaches the site, everything is fine. However, if the ping gets an error message back instead, the monitoring program will immediately send a message to the designated admin along with the error report.
This level of responsive tracking means that even if downtime comes as a complete surprise, you are alerted from the very first moment your website is no longer publicly available and can immediately begin the steps necessary to get your site online. In most cases, the cause will be simple, easy to find, and easy to fix. A full memory cache, for instance, could be quickly cleared in order to allow the site to continue loading as needed. One of the most useful ways to make use of availability monitoring is to prepare several of the most common fix procedures so they can be deployed the moment an alert is received, potentially getting your site back up within seconds of the downtime initiating.
The Ultimate Backup
If your eCommerce site is big, popular, and deals with an abundance of daily shopper traffic, it may be worth your while to prepare a complete backup of the site that can step up to take the place of your current website should anything happen. While availability monitoring can tell you the moment a site failure is detected, sometimes the solution will not be immediately available. When this happens, you'll need a way to get your website back up even if investigation and repairs are necessary. With a backup infrastructure, you can potentially get your online venue up and running again quickly rather than leaving it in a failure state that is incredibly discouraging to your customers. At the very least, you want a 'Technical Difficulties' landing page to engage so that your customers never see a broken page and know that you're working hard to get their favorite shopping source back online.
Availability and Performance
Being available to both loyal and new customers is the number one priority of your eCommerce business, so it's only natural that availability monitoring take front and center position in your maintenance suite but it's also not the only kind of monitoring that could be useful to you. Your site's performance, the speed at which it loads pages, also matters a great deal when it comes to creating a satisfying shopping experience. By monitoring not just the availability but the performance metrics of your website, you gain an invaluable tool for optimizing and it could even give you some warning before the site fails if performance drops off significantly first, as it does with traffic overload.
No matter what niche your eCommerce business serves or how many customers rely on your products, everything hinges on your site being online and open for business 24/7. With availability monitoring, you can lay off the refresh button and rest easy knowing that should anything go wrong with your website, a helpful alert will appear in your inbox within moments of the drop. One of the greatest things about running an eCommerce business is that the website can, for the most part, manage itself and availability monitoring means you can trust it to do so.
For more great advice, guidance, and expert IT services for your online business, contact us today!